2021 Newbery Award Winners

January 31st, 2021 by

During the pandemic, there are no more fancy awards shows with live performances, red carpets, and good-looking celebrities chatting with even better-looking celebrities while wearing glittering gowns. But you know one thing that social distancing cannot take away from us? Book awards!!!

On Monday, the American Library Association announced the 2021 Newbery Medal Winner and 2021 Newbery Honor Books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

This year’s big winner is When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller — which also won the 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature! When we were growing up, it seemed like only a few novels featured Asian-American kids like us, so it’s pretty exciting to see this book selected for both awards.

Plus, the double award was apparently essential to surprising the author with her Newbery news. Tae Keller told Publishers Weekly Magazine that she learned about her Asian/Pacific American Award on a Friday, but then her editor said the awards committee wanted to do a video call with her that Sunday. All weekend, she was super nervous and unsure what they were going to say. Then it turned out that the call was to surprise her with the news that she won the Newbery Medal! We don’t know about you, but that sounds about 100 times more thrilling than any of our recent Zoom calls!

So if you’re trying to decide what to read next, check out When You Trap a Tiger or Tae Keller’s first book, The Science of Breakable Thingsor any of this year’s Newbery Honor recipients (official descriptions from the publishers):

2021 Newbery Medal Winner:

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal — return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health — Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice… and the courage to face a tiger.

2020 Newbery Honor Books:

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a 17-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: How long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water? Luckily, the Wild Boars are a very extraordinary “ordinary” group. Combining firsthand interviews of rescue workers with in-depth science and details of the region’s culture and religion, author Christina Soontornvat — who was visiting family in Northern Thailand when the Wild Boars went missing — masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the 13 young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. 

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood

Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he “entered the world a slave.” He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next — as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope — and help — came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape!

In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown’s story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf — her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in 7th grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.

Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing 7th grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his 12-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing.

The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project — they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

Are you adding any of these books to your to-read list? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

2020 Newbery Award Winners

February 3rd, 2020 by

The Super Bowl was last night, and apparently that’s exciting for some people… Not us! The only recent competition that we care about actually happened last week: the Newbery Awards!

Last Monday, the American Library Association announced the 2020 Newbery Medal Winner and 2020 Newbery Honor Books. Every year, the Newbery is given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” So if you’re not familiar with these awards, just think of them as the Super Bowl — plus children’s books, minus the nachos. We know, we know — nachos are delicious. But even without the cheesy chips and guacamole, the Newbery Awards are still really exciting.

And this year’s announcement was particularly exciting because a graphic novel won the Newbery Medal for the very first time: New Kid by Jerry Craft. Here’s what Karen had to say about it in her review: “I’d recommend this book to literally everyone. Okay, maybe not to little kids who can’t read yet. But everyone else should check out New Kid. Students, adults, everyone.”

So if you were wondering what to read next, check out New Kid or any of the Newbery Honor recipients (official descriptions from the publishers):

2020 Newbery Medal Winner:

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds — and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

2020 Newbery Honor Books:

undefeatedThe Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

scary-stories-for-young-foxesScary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood.

No fox kit is safe. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow… and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and 16 hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R.L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

other-words-for-homeOther Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US — and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.

But this life also brings unexpected surprises — there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.

genesis-begins-againGenesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

There are 96 things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant — even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight — Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Are you adding any of these books to your to-read list? Or have you already read them? Leave a comment and let us know!

You Asked, We Answered: Newbery Picks

June 25th, 2017 by

On June 21, 2017, Kidsmomo reader Cassie asked us for some award-worthy book recommendations:

I love all books and do you have any books for the Newbery?

That’s a great question, especially now that we’re halfway to the next Newbery announcements (which will be in January 2018). Cassie, I’m going to answer your question two ways:

1. Potential Newbery Winners Worth Reading:

There are several blogs out on the interwebs that identify books that are getting lots of buzz and might be Newbery contenders. So I’m going to let those blogs do the work for me, and give you their suggestions:

From 100 Scope Notes:

The Ethan I Was Before
– Orphan Island
The Someday Birds
Thick as Thieves
See You in the Cosmos
Me and Marvin Gardens
Scar Island
The Pearl Thief

From Heavy Medal:

Isaac the Alchemist
– Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out
The March Against Fear
Me and Marvin Gardens
One Last Word
Pathfinders: The Journeys of Sixteen Extraordinary Black Souls
– Princess Cora and the Crocodile
Thick as Thieves
The Warden’s Daughter

2. Newbery Medal Winners I Love:

The American Library Association has been giving out Newbery awards since 1922, so that means there are A LOT of winners out there. Below are my particular favorites — selected just from the Medal winners. (If I were to include Newbery Honor recipients… forget it — the list would go on for days and days!)

Cassie, I hope that gives you some good ideas for what to read next — and potentially enough books to keep you busy all summer!

To the rest of you: If you’re like Cassie and want some customized book recommendations just for you, submit an Ask Kidsmomo question in the form below!

    Kids: Ask your parents or teachers for approval before you submit anything to us, and read our Privacy Policy Statement.

    Your Name (optional):

    Your Message (required):

    — Karen

    Okay, Karen can’t stop herself from mentioning some of the recent Newbery Honor books that she loves: Brown Girl Dreaming, El Deafo, Three Times Lucky, Inside Out & Back Again, One Crazy Summer… The list goes on and on! Literally. Like, here is the list of all the past winners ever.

    More about Karen »

    2017 Newbery Award Winners

    February 1st, 2017 by

    It’s a month into 2017, and the American Library Association has rolled out the red carpet for their biggest stars: authors, illustrators, librarians, publishers, and of course, BOOKS!

    For those Newbery Newbs out there: The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Academy Awards or Super Bowl for kids literature, and their big award is the John Newbery Medal. The award is given out to a book published in 2016, and the selection committee is comprised of MVPs of books: librarians from around the country!

    Check out this year’s winners (descriptions provided by the publishers):


    The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

    Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

    One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule — but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her — even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.


    Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

    Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.

    Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as… a lantern.

    You, an object. An object to sell.

    In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold — dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about — their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

    The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog written by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly

    An exciting and hilarious medieval adventure from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm.

    1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: They are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

    Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte… recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

    Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

    Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

    Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.

    Which books have you already read, or are most interested in reading? Vote in the poll below!

    Your Newbery Picks:

    Awards Announcements: The Newbery and The Cybils!

    January 21st, 2016 by

    newbery-medalYou’ve probably heard of the John Newbery Medal, a very big deal in the children’s book world. Well, it was recently announced that this year’s medal goes to picture book Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña! Woo hoo! Congrats!

    If you’re looking for a heftier page-turner, check out this year’s Newbery Honor books: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan:

    Cybils_2015And in other news, we’re celebrating Cybil’s 10th birthday: Happy 10th Birthday, Cybil — I mean, THE Cybils! You’re all grown up! Wait — maybe we should back up and answer the question: What (not who) is the Cybils?

    The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.”

    We love The Cybils Awards, because they put a spotlight on awesome books — some well-known and some hidden gems. Check out this year’s middle grade finalists in each category:

    The Cybils 2016: Non-Fiction Finalists

    The Cybils 2016: Speculative Fiction Finalists

    • Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
    • Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
    • Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
    • The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson
    • The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
    • Wings of Fire Book Six: Moon Rising by Tui T. Sutherland

    The Cybils 2016: Graphic Novels Finalists

    • Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
    • Courtney Crumrin, Volume 7: Tales of a Warlock by Ted Naifeh
    • Dragons Beware! by Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre
    • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
    • Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
    • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
    • The Marvels by Brian Selznick

    The Cybils 2016: Fiction Finalists

    • Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
    • The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
    • Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
    • Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught
    • Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

    Have you read any of these award winners? Leave a comment and let everyone know your thoughts!

    — Kidsmomo

    The Crossover: 2015 Newbery Medal Winner!

    February 3rd, 2015 by

    newbery-medalRemember when we mentioned a book called The Crossover by Kwame Alexander as one of the most talked-about books of 2014?

    And then remember when we mentioned it just a few weeks later as a finalist for this year’s Cybils Awards?

    Well, guess what — now we’re gonna mention it AGAIN because apparently the universe just can’t stop with this book already! As announced yesterday, The Crossover is winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal!

    So basically, this book is like the equivalent of a movie that’s been hot all awards season and then it goes and wins the Oscar for Best Picture. Way to go, Kwame Alexander!

    2015 Newbery Medal Winner
    The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

    The Crossover_Kwame Alexander

    As you can tell from the cover, this book is about basketball. But also, it’s about family and dealing with tough surprises and growing up. Through verse with the energy of rap, Josh narrates his life on and off the court with his twin brother, JB.

    It’s worth mentioning that The Crossover was also named a 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. Each year, the Coretta Scott King Awards recognize an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. So, yeah… I guess you could say this is a pretty darn good book.

    But let’s not forget this year’s Newbery Honor books:


    And actually, Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King Author Award this year. And El Deafo is a Cybils finalist. And both of them were part of our Best of 2014 round-up. So I think it’s safe to say these are pretty darn good books too! So read them!

    Or have you already read any of these books? Leave a comment and let us know!

    2014 Newbery Award Winners

    January 28th, 2014 by

    newbery-medalIt’s awards season! That means around this time of year, celebrities dress up, walk the red carpet, give out awards, and get awards. Well, the 2014 Newbery Medal and Honor books were announced yesterday, so the biggest celebrities in OUR lives — books and authors — got some pretty big awards yesterday!

    Check out the 2014 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners (given to books published in 2013):

    Newbery Medal Winner
    Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo


    Newbery Honorees

    Check out this (totally imaginary) acceptance speech the Medalist gave at the book awards ceremony:

    Announcer: “And the Newbery Medal goes to… Flora and Ulysses, The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo!”

    Flora and Ulysses hops off the shelf and onto a convenient push-cart that wheels it down the red carpet and up to the podium (after all, books do not have feet).


    *laughs nervously*

    It’s such an honor to receive this award! Well, first I’d like to thank my author and illustrator, Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell — you two are amazing! I’m so lucky to have your words and illustrations on my pages.

    Oh, and I’d like to thank Candlewick Press, who published me and got me into bookstores and libraries! Thank you for believing in me!

    It’s such an honor to be up here with the other honorees, like Billy Miller and Paperboy and One Came Home and Doll Bones!  Whenever I talk to Doll Bones I get the chills, ha ha! There were also so many other new books last year that were so amazing! You know who you are!

    Oh and speaking of my peers… I see last year’s winner, The One and Only Ivan, in the crowd — you are such an inspiration, Ivan! And of course, I want to give a shout-out to my siblings…

    *looks out into the crowd and sees The Tale of Despereaux, Because of Winn-Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane*

    You might think being a new book in a family full of award winners would be daunting, but they always taught me to be myself — a story about a girl and her superheroed squirrel. I’m about one of the most important things a book can teach: friendship!

    Also, I want to say to my little chapter book siblings, Bink and Gollie and Mercy Watson: You better be in bed by now!

    *music starts to play*

    Oh no! They’re playing me off the stage! Thank you! Thank you and good night!”

    2013 Newbery Book Giveaway

    February 1st, 2013 by

    A few days ago, we posted about the 2013 Newbery Award winners — aka only the mildly, slightly BEST BOOKS EVER of last year!

    Well, we have some awesome news (because we are awesome): If you’ve been dying to get your hands on those award-garnering bad boys since the winners were announced, now’s your chance! We’ve got a prize pack featuring all four books!


    • A copy of 2013 Newbery Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

    • A copy of 2013 Newbery Honor book, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

    • A copy of 2013 Newbery Honor book, Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

    • A copy of 2013 Newbery Honor book, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

    Enter before March 1st! See official rules.

    This sweepstakes is now closed.

    The One And Only Ivan: 2013 Newbery Medal Winner!

    January 29th, 2013 by

    Okay, I admit it — sometimes I go on YouTube and play music videos while I’m on the computer at work. My favorite: Carly Rae Jepson performing “Call Me Maybe” with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots (AMAZING). But yesterday morning, I had a different video on in the background while I “worked”: the webcast announcing the winners of the 2013 American Library Association Youth Media Awards (ALAymas)!

    Not familiar with the ALAymas? Well, I bet you’ve heard of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the awards. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in the previous year. Past winners include The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamilloManiac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and most recently, Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos and Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.

    And yesterday, a new winner was announced into my earphones as I was “slaving away” at the office:

    The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

    As you may recall from my round-up of the most talked-about books of 2012The One and Only Ivan was absolutely on the list. Unfortunately, Nancy and I haven’t been talking about it much because, well, we haven’t read it! [insert ashamed downcast eyes here] But make no mistake, we will be making Ivan’s acquaintance very soon; I just ordered it from the library!

    If you haven’t met Ivan either, here’s part of the official description:

    Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all. … Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home — and his own art — through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

    AND check out this review from Connor, age 11 (from New York)!

    Or if you’re more visual, feast your eyes on this book trailer. I got choked up just watching it! Okay, yes, I cry very easily. But you look at these animals and tell me if your heart doesn’t melt a little! (But if it literally melts, um, maybe see a doctor?)

    And this year, there were also three Newbery Honor Books:

    • Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
    • Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
    • Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

    Have you have already read any of these big winners, leave a comment and let us know! 

    And stay tuned — we’ll be giving away a prize pack with all four of this year’s Newbery books! Details to come in a few days!

    — Karen

    Karen’s favorite way to see animals up close is by scuba diving. (You may have guessed by that picture, right over there. < )

    More about Karen »

    Dead End in Norvelt: 2012 Newbery Medal Winner!

    January 26th, 2012 by

    As you guys know, I’m a very impatient person. So even though it seems kind of backwards, I’m willing to go the extra mile in order to save time. If I want to see a TV show, I record it so I can fast-forward through the commercials. If I want to know what the President said in a speech, I’ll go online afterwards and skim the text transcript. If I know where I’m going to eat dinner, I’ll look at the restaurant’s website beforehand so that I’m already familiar with the menu when I get there. Like I said, I’m VERY impatient.

    But in the last few weeks, I’ve watched three big-deal spectacles in real-time — which just goes to show you how super important they were. And the three events were: the Golden Globe Awards, the playoff game between the 49ers and the Giants, and the announcement of the American Library Association Youth Media Awards (ALAymas)!

    What? You don’t know that last one? Well, I bet you’ve heard of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the ALAymas. Every January, it’s given to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in the previous year. Past winners include completely-awesome-major-big-deal books like The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

    And earlier this week, a new winner joined the ranks of this prestigious group:


    Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

    As you may recall from our book trailer for Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, Nancy and I have been fans of Jack Gantos for a while now. So we extend a hearty congratulations to the man of the hour! But we also have to give ourselves a disapproving shake of the head and a look of pure disdain because, well, we haven’t read this book yet!

    But we definitely plan to read Dead End in Norvelt ASAP — not just because it won the Newbery, but also because it sounds totally awesome! Here’s part of the official description:

    Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore — typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels … and possibly murder.

    Cookies and murder in one book?! Obviously, WE ARE IN!

    And we’ll also be adding the 2012 Newbery Honor Books to our To Be Read list:

    • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
    • Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

    So, if you’ll excuse us, we need to go out and obtain some books, like, right now. But if you have already read any of these big winners, leave a comment and us know!

    — Karen

    Karen used to get lots of nosebleeds when she was a kid. She did NOT enjoy putting tissue up her nose to stop the blood. But to be honest, she kinda liked the feeling of pulling it out once the bleeding had stopped. That’s not gross, right?

    More about Karen »

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